Today we're going to talk about nutrition. This will be a three part subseries on nutrition, due to the amount of information that has to be passed. We'll discuss the breakdown of the different energy nutrients. Let's move right along.

By far one of the most important and key elements on the road to physical fitness is nutrition. You can do all of the running, weightlifting and calisthenics you want. However, if you're not eating correctly, it's all for naught. Some people eat too much, some too little. We need to come to a happy medium. I, for one, love to eat. I love all foods. I am particularly fond of cakes and pies. Many people think that because I'm in good physical condition, that I don't eat cakes, cookies, pies and drink alcohol. I tell people that I do all of those things, I just don't do it in excess.

Why are we so tempted to eat foods that we know we should avoid? What triggers our eating habits? Why do we like high-fat, high calorie foods? There are many things that influence our eating pattern, including hunger, habits, economics, marketing, availability, convenience and nutritional value. More likely than not, the strongest reason we choose to eat certain foods is for taste. We also like foods that have happy associations, such as those eaten at family gatherings and on holidays. Also, convenience plays a big role. In our fast paced world, it's much easier to pop something in the microwave, than to cook something. These are some of the things that we must be aware of when heading down the nutritional path. What are nutrients anyway? Let's get to the heart of it.

Nutrients are life-sustaining substances found in food. They work together to supply the body with energy and structural materials, and to regulate growth, maintenance and repair of the body's tissues. Protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and water are the six major classes of nutrients. What are they and what do they do? Let's take a look:

Protein: Builds and repairs body tissue. Major component of enzymes, hormones and antibodies.

Carbohydrate: Provides a major source of fuel to the body. Provides dietary fibers.

Lipids (fat): Chief storage form of energy in the body. Insulates and protects vital organs. Provides fat-soluble vitamins.

Vitamins: Help promote and regulate various chemical reactions and bodily processes. Do not yield energy themselves, but participate in releasing energy from food.

Minerals: Enable enzymes to function. A component of hormones. A part of bone and nerve impulses.

Water: Enables chemical reaction to occur. About 60-65% of the body is composed of water. Essential for life as we cannot store it, nor conserve it.

Now, there are conflicting theories on how much of each nutrient, particularly the three energy nutrients; protein, carbohydrates and fat, that we must intake to help us stay healthy or lose bodyfat. Next issue we'll take a look at some of those theories. We are going to end this issue with a few examples of the different energy nutrients (the ones we hear so much about on T.V.).

The following examples may have small amounts of other energy nutrients, however they are a major source of the nutrient category that precedes it:

Protein: Chicken, fish, beef, pork, shellfish, tofu, egg whites, etc.

Carbohydrates: Pasta, starches, rice, bread, fruits, sugar, most vegetables, juices, potatoes, fiber (almost a subcategory by itself).

Fat: Oils, butters, spreads, margarines, dairy products (fat and protein), egg yolks, etc.

These are just a few example of some of the energy nutrients. Next issue we will continue our talk about the energy nutrients and how much of each you should eat. We'll also talk about different diets to include the vegetarian diet and protein diet. Store this information in your physical fitness memory bank and prepare for the rest of the story. Stay pumped, stay motivated and OO-RAH!

Semper Fidelis!